As I was driving alone today, I started thinking about when this whole journey of "getting-over-what-people-think-of-me-thing" began.
It was in days of fasting and praying before the Lord. We were in a church and our situation there had become toxic to my mind, emotions, physical body, and even my marriage.
We had served, in our opinion, faithfully to the Lord, our leaders, and our brothers and sisters. Sadly, our leaders did not feel the same way. For whatever reasons, they had determined in their minds that I could not be trusted.
I knew something was wrong, though I could never put my finger on all of it...to the point that I thought I was going to go crazy and literally had researched mental hospitals to get help. I thought I was messed up and must be the cause of all of this somehow, though I did not see how!
I tried everything I knew to make the situation better. I even stuffed all of my giftings down and did little and talked to hardly anyone so I couldn't be accused of anything...so maybe my leaders would feel more secure...so maybe my husband could keep a "friendship" he cherished and had needed for a long time.
Things from my past, however, had caused my physical body to react to conflict and difficult situations in violent ways. I was getting very ill from the stress. Where many individuals can go through chaotic times and recover relatively quickly, my body responds with physical responses I cannot control. I will spare you the details, but heart palpitations and anxiety attacks were part of it. (Thankfully, that has gotten better.)
My sweet husband was lost and confused. He was torn. He was trying his best to understand what all was going on, as I was. It just seemed like nothing I ever did was the "right" thing where my leaders where concerned. Their methods of "correction" left me feeling like such a loser that could never get "it" right...whatever "it" was that I was striving for!
I know so much of that was my own insecurity and fear of rejection and abandonment. I definitely don't place all the blame on them, and even then, I recognized the enemy's hands on the whole thing. But, when humans decide that they "know" something, it is hard to change their minds and one cannot be lead correctly and effectively by those who do not trust them. That will always affect their motives and ways of handling situations.
All this came to a head as my husband was starting his new job. For several weeks, he was out of town, which was really a God-send. I took that time to fast and pray alone with the Lord, and I know that He told me not to return to the church at that time because He confirmed it three times over.
The Lord showed me many, many things through His Word in that season. I examined my heart, let Him exam my heart and reveal it to me. Of course I saw where anger and hurt had allowed bitterness to take root. It was definitely THE hardest time in my life, but at the same time, the absolute sweetest time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The more time I spent with the Lord and allowed Him to take me out of that environment, the healthier I became...to the point that neighbors, friends, family, and even my medical doctor noticed a difference! I poured over the Word and prayed and listened intently. I saw how much I had let other people and my fear become idols in my life.
I had been operating, not be His direction, but by fear of man.
I cared deeply for my leaders (still do...want nothing but God's best for them). I wanted to please them, to help them, to stand up for them. I still believe I was doing all those things to the best of my human ability, but unfortunately, the enemy was working and they became convinced otherwise.
The devastation of having your character questioned guts you as a human. I saw the rejection and betrayal my Savior took on Himself in a whole new light.
I determined then that I was going to overcome the fear of man and man's approval in my life. I was going to tear down that idol with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit so nothing else could be stolen from me.
I remember so vividly the night before a retreat I went to be part of. I was laying in bed by my husband, telling him how nervous it made me to talk in front of people. He does such a great job with that! I felt led by the Lord to ask Him to pray for me, that I would be helped in speaking out boldly. It was an amazing moment between us, and though I cannot explain it, I felt something tangible happen in my physical body.
When I spoke at the retreat, the Lord was with me and helped me convey a message of hope and healing. I was able to share transparently and was in awe of what was taking place. It was a life-changing experience for me. Sadly, the next day, I received a phone call from my leader that was...well, let's just simply say it wasn't kind, and that is the point the Holy Spirit has taken me back to and shown me that I shut down in my soul.
I do not believe the hurt was intentional. I believe these leaders were doing what they thought was right in these times, but they were misguided and the effects have been far-reaching in my life, my husband's life, and other people's.
The enemy doesn't play fair and will use anyone as a pawn to destroy. We must stay alert and watch for anything that is used to tear us down.
That was three years ago, and just recently, at a conference I went to, my soul began to reawaken in a fresh way. It has been a process for sure! I have learned so much. I would not go back and change it if I could. Shocking, I know, but I wouldn't trade what propelled me into the arms and understanding of Jesus to the deepest extent I have known yet.
I realize now that my insecurity caused me to seek man's approval. Seeking man's approval caused me to allow wrong actions and wrong actions allowed me to be torn down in many ways.
Something snapped in me in the months that followed. Something bold and ferocious rised up inside me.
It was my identity in Christ.
I have been on a journey of learning who He died for me to be...of understanding what all He took on Himself so I wouldn't have to.
I owe no person anything but to love them. I learned that Love doesn't always want me to stay where I am mistreated or put up with accusations leveled against me without cause or witness. Love doesn't require me to be fake and pretend that nothing happened. Love wants me to be kind, patient, and forgiving. Love does not require me to forget what occurred, but to learn from it and not to throw it back in someone's face in a spiteful way. Love desires for me to move on and realize that people are people, not flawless messiahs!
Hurting people hurt people. Sometimes they mean to, but many times they don't. Hurting and insecure people often judge others and are critical with an opinion of knowing what others should do in every situation!
I know I hurt others in my hurt. I am sorry a thousand times over for my part in things...yesterday, today, and forever. God is teaching me how to look to Him for my security and acceptance...to realize Jesus is the only standard of perfection, and I cannot meet it in my human self. I am utterly dependent upon Him and thankful for His obedience and sacrifice to take my place on the cross. The full fury of God's wrath was taken out on Jesus so that I could be free...and I am learning what it means to live free! There is therefore NOW, NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I am in Him. He is in me. I don't have to be who anyone else wants me to be. They may not understand me. They may disagree with me. But, "they" are not my Judge. I want to bow only to the One who is worthy of my worship. I will move when He says move and do what He says to do...without apology or explanation to any proud human critic.
I pray you will too (especially you my sons...always, but in the utmost love and humility).